Medical students focus on developing skills needed to provide practical and sound advice to patients about what foods to choose, why they are important, and how to eat them
As part of the treatment and healing process, doctors often discuss diet and lifestyle changes with patients.
To ensure that they, themselves, understand the connection between nutrition and medicine, a group of University of Michigan Medical School students are completing a new two-week elective course in the UMMS curriculum, “Culinary Medicine.”
The course addresses the basics of evidence-based nutrition and dietary consequences related to health and disease. Students focus on developing skills needed to provide practical and sound advice to patients about what foods to choose, why they are important, and how to eat them. The skills also can help students improve their own wellness and lifestyle.
“Physicians frequently attempt to plant the seeds of lifestyle and behavioral change in their patients, but lack comprehensive knowledge about evidence-based nutrition practices,” says M4 Natalja Rosculet, who is helping to coordinate the course. “Practical curriculum in culinary medicine can improve not only students’ ability to counsel patients about nutrition, but also their own nutrition habits and those of their family and friends.”
In addition to readings and discussion, the third- and fourth-year students are preparing healthy meals in a kitchen at Eastern Michigan University. The dishes focus on the Mediterranean diet, portion control and weight management, the DASH diet, and carbohydrates.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases Brigid E. Gregg, M.D., and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Roma Y. Gianchandani, M.D., are course co-directors.
Students are learning to identify strengths and weaknesses in a patient’s diet/culinary skills, how to counsel patients on dietary change through healthy substitutions, how to offer disease-specific advice, and how to assemble a healthy plate.
As a bonus, the students sample each other’s culinary offerings.
“At the end of the cooking sessions, the group samples all of the food and discusses relevant clinical cases,” says Rosculet. “The course is very hands-on, and provides an engaging and interactive method for students to learn about the interplay between nutrition, medicine and patient care.”